By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Elkhart County Commissioners Monday took the next step in a process that could result in Goshen officials taking possession of the old Holiday Inn property on Goshen’s south side. The move follows a similar approval by the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety May 6.
During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners approved an agreement with the city of Goshen concerning the county’s transfer of tax sale certificate interests to the city. Included in the list of heavily tax delinquent properties was the old Holiday Inn property, 1375 Lincolnway East.
The property was originally set to go to a special public auction this spring, where bidders would have had the chance to purchase the property from the county at a fraction of the back taxes owed. However, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman asked the commissioners in February to sign the property over to the Goshen Redevelopment Commission.
At the time, Kauffman said he made the proposal due to concerns that a tax sale purchase would just perpetuate a string of failed enterprises that have plagued the property for over a decade. Instead, Kauffman proposed that the county sign the property over to the Redevelopment Commission and allow the commission to decide what the best course of action would be for the troubled property. The county commissioners agreed.
Included among the possible options for the property, should Goshen officials eventually take possession of it, were demolition or possible sale and reuse. Mark Brinson, community development director for Goshen, has indicated that while demolition is a possible option for the old property, he thought it might be better to first put out a “request for proposal,” or RFP, to the community to see if there is anyone with a viable plan and the ability to finance a project that would not require demolition.
According to Goshen attorney Larry Barkes, the approved resolutions by the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety and now the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners, represent the first step in what will likely be a fairly long and involved process leading up to the possible transfer of the property to the city.
Barkes noted that in addition to the approved resolutions, there are numerous other hurdles the city and county must jump through before the process is finalized, such as ensuring all parties involved are notified, allowing the property owners a designated amount of time to pay the delinquent taxes, etc. All that, he said, would likely take about six months to complete.
In addition to the traditional hurdles involved in the transfer of tax sale certificate interests, Monday’s resolution also included several caveats which the commissioners indicated must be adhered to by the city of Goshen if the property transfer is to remain permanent.
Included among the caveats was a requirement that the city agree to either renovate or demolish the hotel structure within 18 months of the change of property ownership. Should the city fail to either demolish or renovate the property within that time and no extension is granted, the property must then be transferred back to the county.
Also included was an agreement that should the city eventually sell the property for a sum greater than $10,000 more than the city’s total investment, the city must then pay the county $10,000 to cover any legal expenses, etc., incurred as part of the property transfer.
The property had most recently been operated as the Goshen Inn and Conference Center by Kiran “Ken” C. Patel. Patel was murdered at the motel in October 2011 by a man he had hired to help with renovating the swimming pool area. That pool had been the centerpiece of the former Holidome motel when it was constructed decades ago.